Gaming Creation. whats the tale.

Hey all,

Let me start by introducing myself, My name's Rick and Im 14 years old living in the 'burbs of Melbourne. It all started at the ripe age of 5, The first experiance with a Computer, my parents say i could type before i could tie my shoe's (which is true lol). Ever since i was 5 I have loved and enjoyed playing Computer/Video games. I used to sneak into my brothers room late at night when i should of been in bed so i could watch him play Civilization on the old 486. I am now 14, turning 15 and have my whole life ahead of me.

I am an addictive Gamer and would love to get into the Gaming Industry, although I am afraid that my academic restrictions are going to spoil my dreams. I am a 90%+ student when it comes to English, History and IT, but am a %30 student when it comes to Maths, Science and Chem. I dont know what exactly is involved in the skills required to be a "Game Designer" but so far my experiance is

Fluint HTML Knowledge
Flash Animation
Photoshop
Director 8 Animation
Quake 3/Jedi Outcast Level Editing with Radiant.

I have yet to touch 3D modelling, but my greatest stregnth would have to be 2d Animation. I guess what I am trying to get out of this post are a few answers to my questions. -

the questions being -

What Academic Requirments are Needed?
What Computer Skills/Programs should be learnt?
Does one need to be a great freehand drawer (i couldent draw a cow if my life depended on it)

What advice can anyone in the Gaming Industry give me?, what role's are there to play, what skills are required, and what make's a big cheese designer?.

Thanks, I hope to hear from you soon.

Rix0r

"No this is not the suicide helpline, cant you even dial a phone!!!"

OzeDooD's picture

Hey MellowJam,

I am Pete. aka OzeDooD.. also living in the melbourne suburbs. I have also been playing games for a very long time.. got a nintendo for christmas one year (I think when i was about 5 also) . I am 17, turning 18 fairly soon, and am in year 12 - I have completed my VCE already (for all you out there who dont know.. VCE is the Victorian Certificate of Education), still at school to get an ENTER score.
You asked about academic requirements.. I would suggest a successful completion of VCE in-case you cannot get a job in the games industry. And these days not having a VCE completion is not smiled upon by many companies/places... Being 15 you'd be in about Year 9, still plenty of time ahead of you, in which you may have a change of heart about games.. or may not.

I also am rather crap at drawing, but I am just about to begin doing a Basic Drawing course, followed by Intermediate, then Folio preparation. To get into an arts course next year which will lead me onto a multimedia course, and hopefully into a games company .

I am not entirely sure of what is required.. it usualy varies between companies, but i think the main thing is experience. 3D modelling mainly.

Looking around I have noticed that Games companies want programs like maya and 3d Studio max to be well known.

Just take a look around games companies sites in the employment sections to get a general idea of whats needed.

Bunny's picture

Requirements are kinda flexible and vary a lot between studios. If you want to be an animator get gMax and Maya PLE and learn them as best you can. Important animator abilites are things like a good sense of weight and timing. Drawing skill isn't essential but it is a big help. Most studios expect artists to have a traditional art background (painting, sketching, sculpture) but as long as you can demonstrate some aptitude you should be okay. General computer literacy is essential, if you don't know your way around a PC then learn.

Design is a tricky one. In my experience it's very unusual for a studio to hire a designer, they usually come from the ranks of artists, programmers and sometimes QA. The best advice I can give you for becoming a designer is learn to write. I'm of the opinion that design isn't something you can learn, but if you've got the knack then being able to write well helps you get it across. With your academic record you won't make much of a programmer but you should be just fine with art and design.

So... it seems your best shot is to become an artist. So learn the software, learn to build, texture and animate lo-poly models, and make yourself a demoreel. Hang out on polycount, and surf the net for tutorials - www.3dcafe.com is a good place to start. Once you've finished school you might consider coming to Canberra to study at the AIE, great place, that's how I got my job.

Good luck. ;)

souri's picture

I don't want to sidetrack the topic, but if you want to look ahead into the future, keep in mind of a few things.. Looking at Moore's Law,

you're 15 this year..

CPU's are at 2.5 gigaherz.. 2002 15 yrs old
5 gigaherz .. 2003 16 yrs old
10 gigaherz 2004 17 yrs old
20 gigzherz 2005 18 yrs old

aprox 2 years of study at

40 gigaherz 2006 19 yrs old
80 gigaherz 2007 20 yrs old

not to mention the strides that graphics cards are making also.
With that kind of power in mind, I'm throwing a guess that the requirements for games talent will be somewhat similar to what is required for big CGI movie productions like Final Fantasy, Star Wars etc. and will require talent to model convincing hair styles, clothing, muscle deformations. Good drawers and 2D artists will likely no longer do skinning the way it's done now where highlights, shadows and details are drawn in, all done with specular, diffuse, and bumpmap layers. Of course, they'll be doing things like concept art and storyboarding instead.

Anyway, I'd like to see what other advices that developers can give you in respoonse to your post.

steve wang's picture

Hey MellowJam,
I'm a producer at Micro Forte (working on MMOGs), so I can tell you what I look for at least. All the other comments here are also right on the money. Designers are a tricky one, so a few thoughts...

Everyone with an idea thinks he is a designer. That doesn't mean you aren't, it just means its hard to assess. So much depends on a good designer. Design is far more than just ideas. The 'wouldn't it be cool if?' school of design is great for contributing brainstormed ideas as part of making a great game, but certainly does not make for a designer.

Often designers start off as QA staff, involved in the testing cycle. Here they demonstrate many qualities that are needed in a designer, including the ability to analyse gameplay to articulate clearly what doesn't work and why, and what suggested improvements could be made and why. This also helps develop an understanding of what can and can't be done, and what the cost of developing it is. For example its clear that it would be cool if you could be both a male or a female secret agent. Its very clear to a good designer that this means going to a large amount of extra effort to distinguish between them: different voice actors, different cut scenes, let alone (one would hope) different game play styles. Worst case, doubling your effort in producing the game. Its not that we wouldn't want to do it, its just that you need to ask yourself, could that extra 100 man months of programmer and artist time be better spent elsewhere?

A game designer needs to prove they have the ability to design something that is both creative, but buildable with the budget and resources available. They need to have a good understanding of game mechanics and game systems. Game designers also have to be very good communicators to constantly be conveying to the team of programmers and artists the design from an art and programming perspective. They need to be very good writers - they need to write that grabby pitch for a game design to sell not only to publishers, but first selling the ideas internally, as well as a full game design document (ours are often around 100-200 pages). I assume that they will all have plenty of 'wouldn't it be cool if?' ideas. That?s the easy part. One final thing. A good designer ideally needs to be able to design a wide range of games for a wide audience. If all you can design is fantasy RPGs, you are not as valuable - and you better hope that the next big thing is not sci-fi strategy.

Its almost essential that the designer has good artistic ability. It?s a valuable part of communicating design ideas and a big plus. A good technical knowledge helps with designing things that the programmers can work with, and understand what technical things can best be exploited in game design.

We have only every hired one game designer as a designer with no prior game design titles. Others have entered as QA, or even artists and programmers and shown over time that they have a talent for design.

If you really want to be a designer, the most likely path in is through QA, or level design.

The gamasutra have some good stuff on level design. Search there specifically as it updates regularly. They have resource guides for different areas. The level design one is:
http://www.gamasutra.com/resource_guide/20010716/index.shtml

The most concrete thing you can do to prove you are a designer is do some level design. We have applicants who have designed levels for Quake, StarCraft, Jagged Alliance, Counter-strike etc. This certainly shows level design skills (providing they are really top quality from a game play point of view). Starting as a level designer is also a path to demonstrate other game-play design skills through ideas and suggestions. Most successful designers also have a host of their own game designs (such as RPG systems). After initially filtering applications, I like to have a flip through an applicants past designs.

Anyway, just some thoughts. Good luck with everything.

Steve

CaptnHaddock

MellowJam's picture

Thanks for all your replies.

I downloaded MAYA PLE and completed the tutorial on building a door. it Isnt all that difficult and the visualisation is very similar to level design.

Basically my goal is to be the person to design the charectors, the weapons, the spells etc that are put into the game. Even the levels. So far im getting the impression that i just have to learn the programs and show my work to the world. well thats exactly what I am going to do.

Thank you all for your help you have givin me a goal to work for and hopefully achieve.

All the best.
Rick

"No this is not the suicide helpline, cant you even dial a phone!!!"

Kris's picture

quote:


I don't want to sidetrack the topic, but if you want to look ahead into the future, keep in mind of a few things.. Looking at Moore's Law,

you're 15 this year..

CPU's are at 2.5 gigaherz.. 2002 15 yrs old
5 gigaherz .. 2003 16 yrs old
10 gigaherz 2004 17 yrs old
20 gigzherz 2005 18 yrs old

aprox 2 years of study at

40 gigaherz 2006 19 yrs old
80 gigaherz 2007 20 yrs old

not to mention the strides that graphics cards are making also.
With that kind of power in mind, I'm throwing a guess that the requirements for games talent will be somewhat similar to what is required for big CGI movie productions like Final Fantasy, Star Wars etc. and will require talent to model convincing hair styles, clothing, muscle deformations. Good drawers and 2D artists will likely no longer do skinning the way it's done now where highlights, shadows and details are drawn in, all done with specular, diffuse, and bumpmap layers. Of course, they'll be doing things like concept art and storyboarding instead.

Anyway, I'd like to see what other advices that developers can give you in respoonse to your post.


Kris's picture

quote:


Good drawers and 2D artists will likely no longer do skinning the way it's done now where highlights, shadows and details are drawn in, all done with specular, diffuse, and bumpmap layers. Of course, they'll be doing things like concept art and storyboarding instead.

Bah first post stuffed up...

It's already happening as Doom 3 no longer uses standard textures, they are all put through 3D packages and then come out as models. I'd assume their 2D artists from previous games would of just adopted the new knowledge and learn't how to do what in the 3D programs to continue doing textures for iD. As most mappers are now required to have some kind of 3D program knowledge, texture artists are too.